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Connacht Tribune

Galway woman’s UK election bid

Dave O'Connell

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A Galway native is again bidding to make history in contesting the upcoming British General Election – and bidding to be the only MP born in the Republic of Ireland in the next House of Commons.

Frances Rehal – originally Hynes – has already been honoured in her adopted homeland with an MBE for services to children and families.

But having stood two years ago, the native of Srah – near Craughwell, about four miles from Loughrea – is now contesting the seat for North Thanet in Kent on behalf of the Labour Party. The incumbent is Roger Cale, a Tory who has held the seat since 1983.

And were she to succeed against the odds in this Conservative stronghold on June 8, she would be the only first generation politician from the Republic in the House of Commons.

Frances is the daughter of Michael and May Hynes – both now deceased – and she attended the local primary school and St Raphael’s in Loughrea.

She then trained as a nurse at King’s College Hospital in London and did her health visitor training at Brighton Polytechnic.

She completed her degree at University of Greenwich and is now completing a PhD at the university of Canterbury Christ Church in Kent.

And while she has built her life in the UK – and been honoured for her public service – she still holds her home place dear in her heart, despite the fact that her family are no longer living there.

“My parents are both dead and my brother Anthony who was the farmer has also died. But we still have the farm in Srah and I visit there on a regular basis. My other family members are on the east coast,” she said.

The Galway woman’s main election platform is health, having worked in the public sector as a health visitor, an NHS manager, Sure Start Director and children’s centre development manager for the county.

She has expressed particular concern about the high levels of child poverty, the huge discrepancy in life expectancy and the rising levels of foodbank use.

“I’m a school governor at two schools and I see first-hand the impact of the huge hole in school funding which has affected the curriculum and staff levels,” she said this week.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Remote working creates rural boom

Stephen Corrigan

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Report....Professor Alma McCarthy.

Urban dwellers are now looking to up sticks and move to the countryside, as working from home becomes the norm – and with a new survey showing almost all workers who have made the switch hoping to maintain some level of remote working, rural life is becoming increasingly attractive.

According to one of the lead researchers behind the second national employee survey carried out since the onset of Covid-19, remote working is surging in popularity, with 94% of over 5,600 participants hoping to continue working remotely for some or all of the time – an increase from 83% six months ago.

Professor Alma McCarthy of the Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUIG told the Connacht Tribune that the desire to continue working from home had grown since the first phase of the survey in April, with more flexible hours and no traffic adding to its appeal.

“What we are looking at here is a particular cohort of the workforce that have jobs which lend themselves to working from home, and where people have that opportunity, we see that support has gone up [for remote working].

“Most people want a blended type of working arrangement, where they work from home some of the time and go into the office maybe one or two days a week. I think that is probably how it will look from now on,” said Prof McCarthy.

The number of people who wish to work from home five days a week has more than doubled since April, now at 27% compared to 12% in the early days of Covid-19.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Retail outlets stay positive despite shut-down

Stephen Corrigan

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Challenge...Fiona Charity.

Galway retailers have reiterated calls to shop local online in the coming weeks, as Level 5 restrictions force them to close their doors in the run up to peak shopping season.

From today (Thursday), unessential retailers must shut up shop until December 1 – limiting outlets such as clothes, furniture and toy shops to online sales and collections only.

One such shop is Modella Fashion in Corrandulla, which only opened its doors for the first time in July, and while owner Fiona Charity said it was clearly a huge challenge to start a new business in a pandemic, she remained hopeful that she could weather the storm.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing, but public health is the most important thing, and if this works, we might have more freedom for Christmas.

“We are lucky in that we went live with our website last week and that’s been really busy already. Even though we can’t open, people are able to order online and have their order delivered, or click and collect,” said Ms Charity ahead of closing this week.

Likewise, Standún in An Spidéal has seen a surge in their online sales since the onset of Covid-19, according to manager Deirdre Ní Ghríofa, who said the message for everyone was to “shop local as much as you possibly can”.

Ms Ní Ghríofa said they had a big increase in local sales online during the early days of the pandemic and that was something she hoped would continue in the run up to Christmas.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Back in our bubble – and braced for the impact

Dara Bradley

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Fourth Class pupils from Galway Educate Together NS in Newcastle enjoying the wonder of science to mark the launch of Galway Science and Technology Festival's 2020 online programme running from November 8 to 22.

Galway is braced for the economic impact of this week’s return to lockdown – with both the pub and retail sector preparing for the worst.

The head of the county’s publicans predicted that as many as one in five outlets will never reopen, given that the best case scenario now is that they’ll return to Level 3 for Christmas,  which limits outdoor drinkers to just 15.

In a stark warning, Chair of the Galway branch of the VFI, Joe Sheridan, said a conservative estimate was that 20% of pubs won’t reopen – but that could rise to one-third if they didn’t see some return to business for the festive season.

Retailers too were predicting the worst – but still with the belief that a good December could save them.

The reasoning behind the move to Level 5 was underlined by the fact that new cases of the infection are now rising at a rate of 500 per week.

After another record week of positive cases in Galway, there were 13 patients in two public hospitals being treated for Covid-19 – twelve in UHG and one in Ballinasloe.

There were a further three suspected cases in UHG.

See full coverage of the Covid crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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